COVID-19: Hiring the right person is more crucial than ever

A year after the pandemic began, 64% of senior managers now say the consequences of choosing the wrong candidate are greater, according to new research from a staffing agency.

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A year after COVID-19 turned the working world upside down--forcing a global shift of the workforce from the physical office to the digital workspace, creating widespread layoffs and restructuring and creating an atmosphere of insecurity for employees and workers alike--we are starting to feel the repercussions. When it comes to hiring, the landscape is anything but clear. 

The job market during the global pandemic has been marred by instability. While some industries are thriving in the digital workspace, others are suffering. Many employees are facing layoffs or are forced to leave work because of increased pressure as caregivers (especially women).

While jobs are disappearing and reappearing in certain sectors, hiring managers have been facing a unique battle; as it turns out, finding the right candidate is of critical importance during these uncertain times. According to a survey of nearly 3,000 senior managers conducted by staffing agency Robert Half, from Nov. 19-Dec. 18, 2020, recruiting the wrong candidate is common. A significant portion of those surveyed (76%) say that they have chosen the wrong person for the job and 64% believe that these wrong choices carry greater costs.

SEE: Recruiting and hiring top talent: A guide for business leaders (TechRepublic)

Those surveyed pointed to a few reasons why these choices are critical, during a global pandemic or not. "Time waste" for hiring and training was a negative consequence according to 37% of respondents. Others (20%) pointed to stress increases on supervisors. Seventeen-percent said that bad decisions hurt staff morale.

These hiring mistakes aren't so easy to fix, either. The survey looked at 28 different U.S. cities and found that employers in San Francisco waste almost five months correcting a mistake, and employers in Seattle, Minneapolis and Los Angeles take the longest time to recover, at 26 weeks, 25 weeks, and 23 weeks, respectively. On average, senior managers said it took 10 weeks to realize the candidate was the wrong fit and to properly restaff the position.

SEE: COVID-19 workplace policy (TechRepublic Premium)

"In the past year, companies have made big transitions, including the move to remote work and shifts in their hiring and onboarding practices," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, in the press release. "When faced with so many changes, there can be more room for error and, unfortunately, a bad hiring decision can have a ripple effect throughout the organization."

There's some good news on the horizon: 82% of employers have recently said they plan to hire in 2021. The trick will be to ensure these companies are smart about their decisions.

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